Producers' Guide For Submitting Stories To

Producers' Guide For Submitting Stories To

 WINGS: Women's International News Gathering Service

(Revised July 26, 2006)

Technical Tips

Subjects:

 

Stories should be news about women's actions or views on world events -- and must be of international interest. Frequent topics include: women & human rights, the environment, law, politics, labor, economics, international relations, grassroots organizing, and technology. WINGS doesn't use essays, editorials, publicity pieces, or self-help features.

What To Tape:

The heart of a WINGS story is women speaking for themselves, We want well-recorded, intelligent, passionate statements. Crowd sound, music from the event, etc. are a plus.

 

 

Program Formats:

 

WINGS distributes a weekly half-hour radio program.  The content should be about 28 minutes long.  You may submit a full half-hour on current affairs, or a shorter piece (up to 7 minutes) for inclusion in a newscast-format program.

1. Newscasts normally contain 5 stories, each from 3 to 6-1/2 minutes long.

2. Current affairs programs may be documentaries, speeches, extended interviews, conference coverage, or, rarely, topical audio art. (Final cut from content providers should be 28 minutes.)

 

Editing Formats:

 

Items specially produced for WINGS are wonderful. However, WINGS does not require an exclusive, and willingly adapts items for our use from previously aired material. If the material is really compelling, we may do a final mix from your segments, produce a story from your rough edit, or (when time permits) edit a story or program from your raw tape. Please send written or printed material with your story in any case, including names of participants properly spelled, credits,  and recording dates.

Selection Criteria:

 

Criteria include sound quality; timeliness; geographic diversity, originality of subject matter; usefulness, quality and novelty of information or ideas; and international importance. The story needs to be of interest in New Zealand as well as New York.

Reporters:

 

WINGS is especially but not exclusively interested in women reporters based outside the U.S. We gladly work with women who are new to radio, volunteers at community radio stations, freelancers, and public radio producers. Mentoring and internships are available.

Pay:

 

Pay is only for material actually used in WINGS programs. We pay for non-exclusive one-time use of your audio. Amounts vary depending on length used, and whether your material is unedited or substantially edited.  All figures are in US dollars, though Canadians may receive payment in the current Canadian equivalent of their fees.

 

FOR ITEMS IN THE NEWSCAST: Use of raw tape: $40 per story if tape originates in U.S.; $45 if recorded abroad. These are flat fees for use of your tape in a single story in a single program. If the story is re-issued, or if your tape is used in another story, you'll be paid for the tape again at the prevailing rate at that time.

If your news story is edited by you (as opposed to by WINGS), add $60 (for a total of $100 or $105).

 

FOR 1/2-HOURS (or series of half-hours): Royalty for use of your tape in a half-hour WINGS program is currently a flat rate of $143.82 that comes from a combination of station payments and grant funding.  There is an additional fee of $60 if the program is substantially edited – totaling $203.82

 

(Originally, the royalty was based on 50% of net from station subscriptions, but these days there is no net, so we stabilized the payments at the 2003 level until such time as revenues increase.)

 

Contacts:

Pitches, questions and feedback can be directed to the editor by email: wingsproducers@yahoo.com – or, telephone (604) 876-6994  or Toll Free (U.S & Canada only) 1-866-789-4647 (866-78W-INGS).

Scripting/Cuts:

 

Women (preferably from the regions covered) speaking for themselves are the focus of WINGS stories.  We prefer to have women from the regions covered speaking for themselves, rather than women from developed countries speaking for or about women in other countries.

 

Narration should preferably be factual, non-judgmental, & brief. Lead usually relates story to current events. We like outcue to mention WINGS, e.g.: "For WINGS, this is Lana Langue in Paris, France."

Editing:

 

Stories you send to WINGS may be edited by staff. Usually this is done for time, to avoid bad sound, tighten the focus, or eliminate editorializing in scripts. Please listen for problems in your own work - especially the temptation to use that great line from an interview that can't quite be understood the first time you hear it - remember, the radio listener only hears it once (usually over traffic, noise, or kids' screaming)!

 

Technical Formats (we accept most of them):

 

Please submit your audio in monaural.

 

Most producers today send us mp3 files via ftp.  It is very desirable that for mp3s you use a sampling rate higher than 64 kbps (so that we can convert to 44,100 mhz 16-bit .wav without additional loss of sound quality).  We use 112 kbps for distribution.  If you want to ftp, please email wingsproducers@yahoo.com for directions.

 

WINGS also accepts submissions by mail.  In order of preference: a data CD with a mono .wav file on it;  a minidisk or hi-md; a cassette.

In some cases, we are willing to make an analog recording from archived audio on a streaming site, or as a last resort to record the story over the telephone.

 

Sending Recordings in the mail:

 

CDs or other media sent through the mail must be labeled with the producer's name and contact information on the disc or cassette.  Enclose a description including all credits.

 

Be sure your package wrapping is strong enough to hold the material, and well enough padded to protect it. (We've seen cracked CDs and crushed cassettes here.) Mail to our P.O. Box 95090 Vancouver BC V5T 4T8 Canada. If you must use non-postal delivery (e.g., Fedex), contact us for a street address.

Returns:

 

WINGS retains tapes we receive but have not yet used, for future use and follow-up. After the material is used, or if it clearly is not to be used, tapes normally go to the WINGS radio archive at The Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Although the physical tape goes to the library, all rights to the audio remain yours and it cannot be used by anyone without negotiating with you directly. (This is another good reason for putting your contact information on the tape!)

 

 

TECHNICAL TIPS

Equipment:

 

Tape for WINGS should be recorded with a professional-quality recorder & microphone. WINGS is happy to advise you or to refer you for advice on equipment choices.  Voice recorders and used for dictation seldom make very good recordings for broadcast – especially if you don’t use an external microphone.  Mini-disk recorders are very popular for reporters now, and less expensive than the new flash-card recorders and internal hard-drive recorders.  Often you can record straight into a laptop computer, as well.

 

One place to look for reviews of equipment is www.transom.org.

 

 

Checklist Of Things To Carry When You Go To Record:

 

  • Always: Microphone, mic cord, recorder, cassettes or mini-disks (always bring at least one spare), cassette/disk labels, pen & paper, batteries (check them before you go!), headphones.
  • Often: Masking tape (to tape your mic to a podium mic and to tape your cords to the floor so no one will trip on them), mic stand (table type or floor type), electrical outlet adapter (to plug your tape recorder into the wall), extension cord, adapters & cords (used to plug your tape recorder into a sound system - basic plug types are RCA, phono (1/4-inch), stereo mini, and XLR).
  • Types Of Connectors: Your mic cord plugs into the mic with an XLR (also called a cannon). A phono plug is about 1/4 inch wide, and a mini is much smaller - but not as small as a micro-mini. An RCA is like a mini with a "collar" to hold it on. All plugs are either "male" or "female" (figure it out).

 

Tape/other recording media:

 

If you're using a cassette recorder, don't choose High Bias tape (usually the most expensive) unless you have a High Bias setting on your machine. Using High Bias tape in a Normal Bias recorder gives terrible tape hiss.

 

If you're using mini-disk, be sure to open the tiny white plastic slide tab on the edge of it after you record. Accidental erasure can be a problem with this medium. 

 

If you’re sending a CD, duplicating at too high a speed can cause problems.  Listen back to your recording before entrusting it to the mails.

 

Tips For Good Recording:

 

1. Sound Levels.

 

Digital media such as mini-disk and CD: If you record at too hot a level on these machines, you get horrible noise on the peaks and it can't be corrected. Check your dubs if you're in doubt.



 

Cassettes: If you record at too low a level, tape hiss can overwhelm your recording. A good average may be about -3 on your meter. Women's voices need to be recorded higher than men's - needle can go into red for most women without distorting.

 

 

2. Microphones and mic handling.

 

If you're using an omnidirectional mic (omni) like the old standard Electrovoice 635A, be sure to hold it close enough to the subject's mouth (about 4 inches), and at the corner of the mouth to avoid p-pops.

 

A favorite cardioid (somewhat directional) mic of ours is the Shure SM-58, a popular singer's and TV reporter's mic. It can be positioned even 2 or 3 feet away, if pointed at the speaker. It has a built-in windscreen and minimizes p-pops. It also minimizes noise from the side (could be crowd sound, other room noise).

 

Your hand on the microphone can make noise - hold it carefully and don't let the subject hold the mic herself.   A loose connection  between the cable and mic or the mic and recorder can also add noises.

 

Background noise can be a very serious problem that can make your on-the-spot interview unusable. Listen through your headphones before you start, because mics amplify noise. If necessary, move to get away from traffic, footsteps, doors opening, compressors. Turn off air conditioners if you can. If you can't find a quiet place, turn your subject so your mic is pointed away from the noise source, keep it close to the subject's mouth, or try pointing the mic down to your subject's mouth from slightly above, so that the subject's body is blocking and absorbing reflected sound.

 

Noise bouncing off hard surfaces can also ruin your tape. An echo-y room (whether a cathedral or a ballroom) is bad to record in, and so is being near a large window or a hard wall or big hard table surface. Listen through the headphones. Try to point both your subject and your mic toward a surface that doesn't bounce sound. Try pointing the mic down toward the mouth from above, using the subject's body to help block sound.


 

3. Recording Speeches: You can't get good sound by sitting shyly in the audience. Your mic has to be properly placed or you've wasted your time. You're the press, so ask permission to record and set up early. A good method is to tape a small mic to the podium mic (make sure speakers will use that mic!). Don't lay your mic down on a table to record - sound will bounce. If you lack a mic stand, prop your mic up to point toward the speaker. 

 

Plugging Into A Sound System: Listen through headphones - many systems have a bad hum, especially in older hotels. Be sure you know whether the output of the mixer is mic or line level and use the correct port on your recorder. As a last resort at an event, hold your mic near a loudspeaker. If you are unsure of the quality of your recording of a speech, ask for an interview afterwards.

 

***DON'T FORGET TO RELEASE YOUR "PAUSE" BUTTON!***

 

 

Do Your Best:

 

WINGS reaches an estimated 100 to 140 radio stations via CD, satellite, and internet. Listeners depend on you to report what women are doing and saying in your part of the world, and they care very much about your reports. Be honest and factual and let the tape you use convey the women's feelings and attitudes, as well as their ideas. Your work makes a difference and is truly appreciated. 

Thank you.

 


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